October 24, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—On Friday, Oct. 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the upper terrace of Valentine Dining Hall, Amherst College, in association with the “Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown” ™ program of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), will host a bevy of local farmers as part of the college’s family weekend activities. The event will provide Amherst students and their families with an opportunity to learn about and even sample a selection of the many goods that are grown, manufactured and produced in the Pioneer Valley.

Prominent among these is a variety of sugary treats that are sure to delight the college student’s palate. Warm Colors Apiary, a South Deerfield-based company that supplies Valentine with local honey, will educate students about beekeeping with an interactive display featuring live bees and different types of honey. Flayvors of Cook Farm will furnish five of its most popular ice cream flavors for a “make your own sundae” extravaganza, along with various cow-themed exhibit including cowbells and statuettes. Beth Cook, co-owner of the third generation farm in Hadley, provides Amherst’s co-op “Zü” house with its dairy products and is thrilled to be working further with Amherst College. The North Hadley Sugar Shack will represent Massachusetts’ strong but underappreciated maple industry with maple sugar candies. The event will also boast a cornucopia of colorful crops from prominent local farmers, such as flowering kale, exotic eggplant and log-grown shitake mushrooms.

CISA—a non-profit organization that unites local farmers, producers and consumers in an effort to preserve and promote community agriculture—began the “Be a Local Hero” Campaign in 1999 to advertise locally grown farm products and provide them with a wider consumer base. The initiative is the longest-running “buy local” program in the country, and Amherst College is excited to be contributing with this Family Weekend event. Debbie Omasta, the dining hall manager for Valentine, says that dining services aims for “student satisfaction” with the event. “The main purpose of hosting this is to let folks know that we do believe in this program and that we do our best to buy only the best local, high-quality items,” she says. Dan Conlon, co-owner of Warm Colors Apiary, appreciates the initiative that Amherst College takes in sustaining local agriculture. “Big schools can do a lot to support local farmers, and Amherst has really reached out to take the lead in that.” Conlon believes that participation from consumers like Amherst College is vital to the program because it “helps keep our farms going.”